Monday, April 24, 2017

Causes and Cures for your inevitable Rut (AKA the Funk)

You're an artist. Be it a photographer, filmmaker, painter, musician or, IDK, the fucking greatest blanket crocheter in Wichita, you and I have all found ourselves in a rut at one time or another, and another.

Like this opener photograph, truer imagery of how a rut makes us feel couldn't be, um, well, truer.

Join with me today to learn how to ward off this evil affliction. .

Being no stranger to the rut, over the years I've produced mental notations in regards to the variables that have either caused or cured said rut.

While some may keep the secrets to their successes under their hats, I, on the other hand, cannot help but want to share those bombs with you. Because as the adage goes . . .
"A rising tide lifts all boats."

Of course that which may cause my ruts may not be the same as your origins. So rather consider this turn by turn directions for your life via my experiences, consider it a tried and true but still abridged (none of us can pay attention anymore) troubleshooting book for creatives.

Moving on.

Root #1 - Time and Experience :: You may find this one enigmatic but having spent a good part of a decade, behind the lens or banging away on a keyboard, it seems that ruts tend to rear their ugly heads the more proficient I become.

Think about it. Say you have just gotten bit by the photo bug. You swear to quit your job and shoot full time. Everything. And I mean everything around you inspires you to shoot. As it should. I mean, how many of you have taken the photo of your feet, standing on the sidewalk, in your Chucks? Right? Again, that's a wonderful feeling. Hold onto it as long as you can.

Now, as you've grown and your eye becomes more discerning, you ultimately shoot less which is a no-no in and of itself for many reasons. Then, before you know it, you haven't even posted on the social networks in over a week. FML.

Bam. Rut.

Root #2 - Distractions :: Look, it's real easy to find yourself binge watching Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. Or, to find yourself in a dark pub hanging with those ole pals that would give you a kidney if needed. Real bros.

Lemme tell you people. That's stuff you better nip in the bud real quick. Trust me. Surround yourself with like minded individuals. The creative synergy created will blow your mind. Don't have creative friends? Look, if you serious about the creative journey, fuck your old friends, find new ones.

And don't even get me started on fantasy leagues. I promised to share my own causes and cures today. I can't even wrap my head around the fact that grown men have fantasy leagues. I REPEAT. CANNO'T EVEN WRAP MY HEAD AROUND IT.

Root #3 - Dwelling :: Nothing worse than finding yourself in a creative rut and to dwell upon it. This is pure self destruction at alarming and exponential rates. Not only does this one do the most creative harm, it's also the one that none of you can hide from. Beware.

Root #3 - Stress :: Need I say more?


We've now focused on a couple of the big culprits; those variables that I could most easily identify that may have led my creative soul into creative sludge. Sitting here trying to clearly identify all the causes makes me realize how abstract they may be. But that's cool. Call it a quick self audit that made me very aware of some key reasons the rut may have dropped in for a visit. So there you go. Do a little true self auditing to see what may have triggered that fucker to sneak in your back door.


While pointing fingers is all fun and good, the real reason this post was even conceived was/is to share the cures; the how to ram your fist down that fucker's throat. The rut's throat that is.


Fix #1 - Exercise :: Now these cures aren't in any specific order but if there was a hierarchy, exercising would definitely be near the top of the list.

Cranking up that heart rate, letting the blood flow through the system more vivaciously does wonders, not only for your physical but also mental well being. And to drill down on mental, I also mean that creative right hemisphere.

Slightly gross but lets say that sedentary brain is just idly marinating in its blood. Soon enough it gets old, some parts not fully marinated, dry out and then flies come and prey on the decaying meat just because you didn't nurture that beautiful marinade. On the flip, the exercised brain is like that blood marinade getting all the TLC in the world; massages, rubs, hammering, what have you. Not sure how I got there but you catch my drift right? Boy I could go for a filet mignon and wasabi mashed potatoes right now. Just saying.

I digress.

Come on people. Do I really need to go into the physiology of what happens inside of your body when you exercise? I can. I was a science nerd in college. I can totally go there. Instead, I'd like to think that if you are a reader of this blog that you are of the highest education calibers.

Lethargy brings more ruts. Exercise sodomizes those ruts and crushes them with newborn and unbridled raw creativity.

Fix #2 - Meditation :: If you never have, meditating is a lot like physical exercise. And like many people at first you will suck, see little or no result because you don't know what the fuck you are doing and ultimately quit.

Be patient. Like working out, you have to have proper technique and ultimate dedication to make it worth while.

My friends, once you get the hang of the meditation thing, I promise you won't ever stop, especially if you are creatively driven. Not only are you practicing to calm that monkey brain and live in the now, you also get the byproduct of that oh so delicious creativity rushing deep into that gray matter.

That rut is like a burning hemorrhoid and with meditation, creativity rushes in to smash that hemorrhoid like a Colombian water avalanche. Yeah, I sooooo went there.

Two times a day and 20 minutes per session. Hey. Start off at once a day even. Soon enough you will be wanting to do it 40 minutes and 4 times a day. However, that may start to interfere with your personal relationships. Everything in moderation, even moderation.

Speaking of . . .

Fix #3 - The nectar of the gods :: I didn't want to hit this one yet but that last paragraph segued way too smoothly to take it in any other direction. Well, either way would have worked. You'll see. Again, none are in any specific ranked order.

As many of you may or may not know, I'm a big sayer of Just Say No to drugs. With the opiate epidemic sweeping across our nation and sons on meth having sex with their tweaked out mothers, the drug world disgusts me. Dude. Yes. Meth takes people there. Besides making them all look related, the meth world is a dark place that most never hear of.

I digress. Again.

Having said that, as opposed as I am to the hard narcotics, I'm an advocate of the responsible usage of reasonable amounts of adult cocktails and/or the eating and/or smoking of cannabis.

The latter I'm not a fan of but totally support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

The last time I smoked weed I sat at a stop sign and waited for it to turn green while being totally paranoid. Eh. Just not the thing for me.

Now, gimme a nice goblet of a bottle fermented Trappist Abbey or even a glass of a big bold pinot noir and I'm all over that shit.

Like meditation the occasional beverage calms the chaos between the ears and with its effect to lessen inhibitions, sometimes new creative ideas can be introduced. But don't be a gavone. Overdo it and you'll wind up numb and blind to any thoughts; rational or creative.

Fix #4 - Diet :: Oh yawn, right? Yeah, said the hater. Wether or not my meals are the cleanest, they are certainly for the most part locally sourced ingredients and locally owned establishments. People. I haven't been in a fast food chain restaurant in well over ten years now. Ok, I'm guilty of buying a coffee from a place that rhymes with Bar Lucks but that's really as far as I'll push it. I wouldn't be caught dead in a McDonalds or any shit like that. Do I eat a burger from time to time? Certainly. Again, locally sourced, organic, grass fed beef to make at home or at a locally owned eatery that has similar beliefs and bangin' accoutrements.

I had a point.

Ah yes. Look, when I kick it up to full blown dietary focus, removing the clean and pure but not-so-good for the waistline meals, I feel immediate changes; physical and mental. Creative fuel!

Now on the flip. I'm just floored when at the market, I see a customer, worse, a customer with a child and I lay my eyes on their haul. When I say that I've witnessed people that fill the belt with nothing but cookies, chips, frozen dinners, soda. . . I mean the lists have gone on and on. Not surprisingly they are typically not the picture of a healthy person but further and beyond the fact that it's got to be some form or child abuse, granted they are a parent, doesn't this put a real fucking drain on positive and creative thought? Talk about a rut people. That's got to be a sure fire way to drive straight into rut-town with no chance of escape.

Give it one week. Wait. No. Give yourself today. Do a half hour of cardio, 20 minutes of meditation and have a day of nothing but greens, beans, grains, a nice hunk of fresh fish and some adult nectars to round out the evening. I promise. PROMISE. If this is new shit for you, you will feel instantaneously better . . . . by noon. Not if you decide to drink that early though. :)

Fix #5 - Sex :: Come on. Let's all be honest with ourselves. What doesn't sex help? Thinking outside the box here, maybe a lack of sex could be the reason for the rut in the first place?

And listen closely my friends. It doesn't matter if you are a Mormon, able to fornicate with ten wives or you need to hit the washy wash or you can only get solo release, it's all good. physiologically, the end results are all basically the same. Sure, the human to human(s) connection proves to be healthier than jerking it to iPhone porn but the solo sessions are better than nothing at all. Use it or lose it.

Fix #6 - Work :: Remember earlier in the post? Root #3 - Dwelling? This one will kind of ties to that one like. Damn. At a loss for a witty analogy.

One of my all time favorite inspirational quotes . . . Well. I have many faves but if there were a single prescription for the curing of a miserable rut, then these following words would be scribbled in some sort of shorthand Greek, across your doctor's pad . . .
"If I only worked when I was inspired, I wouldn't get much work done."
which reminds me of another good one . . .
"Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just show up and get to work."
See how that ties with that root cause? What's gonna happen, surely happen, is that if you wait around  for that magical ah ha moment, the fear that you are in a rut will arise which will lead to the sure rut and the the dwelling will begin and . . . . . . . you see that potential for a big downward spiral don't you?

Better to just get to work. You make make some crap or you may find yourself in the midst of your next brilliant masterpiece.

I totally almost forgot . . .

Fix #7 - Relax! :: Super briefly was Root #3 - Stress mentioned earlier. Easy peasy, relaxation in in some ways the antithesis of stressing, isn't it?


Ruts have found their way into my gray matter and full transparency, working my way out of one as you read and I bang at this keyboard. And it's been a nagging of a rut. Like the MOAB is the Mother Of All Bombs, mine has been my own personal MOAR. You are smart enough that I don't need to explain the change of initials.

Don't believe it? Shit. Check out the archives on the right side of the blog page. For years I was pumping out at least 4 posts a month. When this MOAR hit home, that figured dropped to sometimes 2 or even 1.

It wasn't a consistent funk. There were ups and downs. One step at a time, action was taken and still is. And each day that weight is lessened and that fire grows stronger.

For me? I just gotta get out the camera or the keyboard and the rest will follow. Wait. I mean along with those other fixes of course. Can one work without the other to help your rut? Sure. But from personal experience there is a synergy in applying them all to your daily living.

Questions? Comments? If they don't show in the comment section as there's been some coding issues with this design, shoot me an email follow a link up top to my social networks. If I really dig your Q or C, I'll write a part two of sorts. With your permission of course.

Until next time . . .